The American-born Lady Barbara Judge, a former Kaye Scholer partner once considered the most well-connected woman in the U.K., has resigned as chair of the Institute of Directors (IoD) following an internal investigation by British firm Hill Dickinson.
The leading U.K. firm and employment partner Caroline Prosser were retained to examine allegations about Judge’s conduct. The results of Hill Dickinson’s inquiry were provided this week to a council at the IoD, a 115-year-old, London-based professional organization of company directors, entrepreneurs and other leading British business leaders.
According to various news reports, Judge, 71, stepped down from her role at the IoD after facing claims of bullying staff, as well as racism, sexism and unreasonable behavior. She is being represented by Alasdair Simpson, an employment partner with Addleshaw Goddard in London.
Judge began her legal career in 1969 at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where she met her first husband, Allen Thomas, now general counsel and senior sector partner at Athene Capital Group and head of the London office for independent Russian firm Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners. She moved to Kaye Scholer in 1973, where she made partner five years later. (Kaye Scholer is now known as Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer following a merger last year.)
In 1980, at 34, Judge became the youngest-ever woman to be appointed a commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. She left the SEC in late 1983 to move with Thomas to Hong Kong, where she became the first woman to be named an executive at a British merchant bank. She subsequently served as head of international private banking at Bankers Trust (now part of Deutsche Bank AG) before moving to London in 1993 to become the first woman executive director of Rupert Murdoch’s News International plc.
Judge’s move to the U.K. marked the beginning of what would be an illustrious career abroad. She has held a number of key executive in the public and private sector in Great Britain, including serving as a director and chair of the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority, as well as chair of the Public Protection Fund.
In 2002, Judge married Sir Paul Judge, a British businessman and political figure who died last year at 68. In 2010, Judge, a dual U.K.-U.S. citizen, received a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to the country’s nuclear and financial services.
Her downfall at the IoD reportedly came about after the trade group’s director general, Stephen Martin, made a recording of controversial marks by Judge disparaging blacks and pregnant women on staff. Judge has accused IoD directors of trying to smear her reputation by airing in public the accusations against her.
“At all times we seek to embody the highest standards of behavior and governance,” the IoD said in a statement. “We aim to ensure this process is conducted thoroughly and fairly, and lives up to expectations of the IoD.”
As for Prosser, the Hill Dickinson employment and education specialist who conducted the inquiry into Judge, she has been with the firm since 2005. Prosser has handled several high-profile matters, including advising the BBC on bullying and harassment cases.